2 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 9
Nearly everyone is familiar with the phrase “dressed to the nines”, which means dressed up fancily or fashionably. But why to the nines? Why not dressed to the eights or sevens?
No one really knows where the phrase “to the nines” originated. Some think that the earliest reference is a poem by Robert Burns in 1791 called Poem on Pastoral Poetry in which he notes that “Thou paints auld Nature to the nines.” Did Burns invent the phrase? Other theories link the phrase to the nine muses of classical mythology or the Nine Worthies of the Middle ages. Or, perhaps being “to the nines” is close to being perfect on a scale of one to ten. Whatever the origin, the phrase has become a part of the English language to mean superlative, or to the highest degree. Therefore, in honor of the new year of 2009, I offer a salute “to the Nines” – the years of history ending in 9!
It takes 9 months to be born, cats have 9 lives, there are 9 choirs of angels, and there’s even a “Love Potion No. 9”! In honor of 2009, I plan on taking a look at those other years ending in 9 throughout history – or at least throughout the history of my ancestors. Beginning with the earliest period that I’ve traced my family history to, I’ll look back on certain decades in history and significant events that occurred in “9” years – both in terms of world history as well as my family’s history. I’ll skim along through decades in the beginning, but once I reach the twentieth century I’ll take a closer look at the decades that made up my grandparents and parents lives. My first “9 Year” was 1969, but since I was only two years old, I can’t say it made a big impression on me. But 1979, 1989, and 1999 did make an impression, and I will write a memoir-style post about the impact of those specific years on my life.
Welcome to 2009, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading my “To the Nines” series over the next several months!